Despite all the doom and gloom in the news in 2019, this year in sports unified an ever-polarizing world.
Some teams won their first championships. Others played their first game after heartbreaking tragedy. And athletes made sure they had a voice on and off the field.
Here’s a look back at some of the winners and triumphs in 2019:
College gymnast’s perfect 10 goes viral
Everyone flipped out when Katelyn Ohashi did three backflips, landed into a split and got back up to end her floor routine.
Not only did the UCLA gymnast wow the crowd and go viral on social media, but she stunned the judges too, earning a perfect 10 for her routine in January.
Months later, in April, Ohashi finished her final collegiate gymnastics routine appropriately, by dropping a pretend mic.
She scored a 9.95 for her routine — which, again, went viral.
Patriots dynasty lives on
The New England Patriots won Super Bowl LIII 13-3 against the Los Angeles Rams.
That makes six Super Bowls that Pats quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick have won together, extending their record for the most by a head coach and starting quarterback combination.
The Patriots are also tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most titles in NFL history.
Lastly, Brady, who is 42, now has more Super Bowls than any player in NFL history. And his coach? Well, Belichick later became the third coach in NFL history to get 300 wins.
Virginia Cavaliers redeem themselves
A year after losing in the first round of the men’s NCAA tournament, the University of Virginia Cavaliers were crowned NCAA champions.
The Cavaliers defeated Texas Tech 85-77 in overtime.
“We were destined to win,” said Virginia redshirt sophomore De’Andre Hunter, who led in scoring with 27 points. “We had to.”
In 2018, Virginia lost by 20 points to No. 16 seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). With the devastating loss, the Cavaliers became the first No. 1 seed in men’s college basketball history to lose to a No. 16 seed in the tournament.
Tiger Woods makes comeback of the year
People counted Tiger Woods out before he won his fifth Masters title, his first major win in 11 years and his first Masters since 2005.
The journey that has included career-threatening back problems, career-saving spinal fusion surgery and a tumultuous series of personal problems all culminated in what many are saying is one of the greatest comeback stories in sporting history.
Woods’ successful streak continued when he won his 82nd PGA Tour title at the Zozo Championship in Chiba, Japan.
The Masters champion is now tied with legendary golfer Sam Snead, who won 82 titles throughout his more than 50-year career.
St. Louis Blues win first Stanley Cup title
For the first time in their 52-year history, the St. Louis Blues won a Stanley Cup.
The Blues beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 in June.
The win also came months after the Blues had the worst record in the NHL.
The Blues’ championship ends the longest wait in NHL history — 51 seasons — for a team to win its first championship.
Canada wins its first NBA championship
The Toronto Raptors became the first team outside the United States to win the NBA Finals.
They defeated the Golden State Warriors 114-110 for a 4-2 series victory. The Raptors deflated what would’ve been a three-peat for the Warriors, who were coming off back-to-back titles.
Kawhi Leonard, the All-Star forward Toronto acquired last summer from San Antonio, was named Finals MVP for the second time.
This championship series featured characters off the court, too, such as Canadian rapper and Raptors fan Drake, who released two singles to celebrate the Finals win.
USWNT wins World Cup and demands equal pay
The United States women’s national soccer team defended its Women’s World Cup title in July, beating the Netherlands 2-0.
Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle scored the goals that led to the victory.
This makes the fourth World Cup the USWNT has won.
The team is looking for victory off the field as well, filing a gender discrimination lawsuit that’s set for a May 2020 trial.
High school team’s first game since devastating fire
The Camp Fire destroyed the northern California town of Paradise in the span of two and a half weeks last November.
It also left all but three of the town’s high school football players homeless. But Paradise High School‘s team returned to the gridiron for their season opener in August despite the devastation from months before.
The football-loving town of 27,000 came together in an atmosphere that was like a family reunion. The usual attendance for a game was 2,000, but that day it swelled to at least 5,000.
The team’s homecoming ended in a 42-0 victory.
Kaepernick ad wins Emmy
Colin Kaepernick can now say he’s been in a Super Bowl and an Emmy-winning ad.
Nike won an Emmy for outstanding commercial at the 2019 Creative Arts Emmy Awards for the commercial titled “Dream Crazy,” which featured Kaepernick alongside other sports legends who have supported and advanced political and social causes.
The ad was released days before the start of the NFL season in September 2018. Kaepernick was one of the faces of Nike’s 30th anniversary commemoration of its iconic “Just Do It” campaign.
The ad also helped Nike’s stock hit an all-time high.
3 female athletes break records in one weekend
A trio of female athletes had an astonishing and record-breaking weekend in October.
Simone Biles won her 25th world championship medal, making her the most decorated gymnast of all time, male or female.
Tennis star Coco Gauff, 15, won her first title in the WTA tournament, becoming the youngest winner since 2004.
And Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei broke a women’s world marathon record in her second-straight win at the Chicago Marathon.
Washington Nationals win first World Series
The Washington Nationals clinched their first World Series title after defeating the Houston Astros 6-2 in Game 7.
It was the first time in World Series history that the road team has won every game.
While the title is the first for the Nationals’ franchise, it is the second for a Washington team.
In 1924, the Washington Senators, now the Minnesota Twins, defeated the New York Giants, four games to three.